Monster Spreadsheet Pitfalls: Why Replace Excel with CPQ?

Lurking in your sales quoting process is the monster spreadsheet. It’s big, cumbersome and sometimes unruly. You’re team has been using this manual system to create quotes for so long now that [...]

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Lurking in your sales quoting process is the monster spreadsheet. It’s big, cumbersome and sometimes unruly. You’re team has been using this manual system to create quotes for so long now that it’s hard to imagine doing it another way.

The Excel whiz that created your quoting spreadsheet system probably thinks it’s like a hand-built Ferrari engine. He is proud of it, but it’s admittedly complex. Of course this provides some job security because he is likely the only one who can maintain the monster. Your sales people may also be comfortable – very few people like change – even though the manual configure, price and quote process is time-draining and error-prone.

Maintaining the status quo, because your team is used to it, is not always what’s best for your business. Despite being the industry standard for spreadsheets, Excel has clear drawbacks when it comes to creating sales quotes. There are some things Excel simply can’t do for sales users.

1.Setting rules. Adding new rules can be a cumbersome process. The formulas and tables can be very confusing for someone who is not updating the spreadsheets daily. So, generally, a sales department relies on an Excel guru to administer the quoting system and maintain the rules. In many organizations it takes days and lots of testing to get new rules working correctly and to make sure the rest of the rules still work too.

2.Quote approval. A big pain point for many organizations is getting the quotes out the door. Because sales users need to gather information from disparate pricing sheets and input them into the quoting spreadsheets, the organization spends more time on quote approval. Did the rep use the latest pricing sheet? Did the rep correctly select the right combination of options and service plans? Is this a special price request that needs additional approvals? Manual quoting requires manual verification of accuracy and approvals that slow the process.

3.Scalability. As businesses grow, their product and service offerings grow with them. Thus, their quoting spreadsheets keep growing and growing. For complex products and recurring services, manual quoting eventually becomes impossible to sustain while delivering accurate quotes to prospects.

4.Maintenance. Relying on one Excel whiz to maintain your configure, price and quote spreadsheets is a disaster waiting to happen. If the whiz is unavailable or on vacation, then peers will likely struggle and may be unable to figure out the calculations or unlock the spreadsheet to make updates. There is also the risk that your organization may not be able to access your spreadsheets on shared network drives because they were accidentally deleted, not backed up, or the network drive was unavailable.

5.Real-time data. Another downside of the cumbersome, manual quoting process is that you can’t see your sales funnel. Sales managers have little or no visibility into the history of quotes that reps or channel partners send to prospects or what’s in the pipeline. Without some intense custom reporting and an individual dedicated to generating these reports on a regular schedule, you’ll be hard pressed to link your quotes with an opportunity, so you can see value of your deals today.

We understand that sales organizations and administrators can view their Excel system as a security blanket of sorts. But it’s this false sense of security that slows down your quoting process and puts deals at risk. Cloud-based CPQ software can liberate your sales team from the spreadsheet monster, so you can maximize the value of every sale, quickly.

Learn more about what you can do with automated CPQ solutions and how to capture more revenue faster.

How Model N CPQ Boosts CRM at the Last Stretch of the Sales Cycle

  Companies spend big bucks on customer relationship management (CRM) systems. In fact, Gartner forecasts CRM software revenue will reach $23.9 billion this year. The CRM umbrella is wide. [...]

 

Companies spend big bucks on customer relationship management (CRM) systems. In fact, Gartner forecasts CRM software revenue will reach $23.9 billion this year. The CRM umbrella is wide. It includes everything from customer service and support to marketing and sales. It’s a fairly broad category, but across the board automation is a critical component. Whether its help desk, email marketing or inventory control, automation enables businesses to streamline the lifecycle and improve the customer relationship.

The opportunities to improve CRM seem endless and there is a lot of talk about where CRM is heading. I agree that mobility, the Internet of things and e-commerce will be big drivers for CRM investment. Outside of these high-level drivers, I think that we’ll also see more CRM investment in niche sales automation tools that live outside the CRM tab for opportunity management, which centers on generating a qualified lead and handing him off to sales.

Strategic investment in tools that address the last stretch of the lifecycle will be where the rubber meets the road for increasing profitability of the customer relationship, particularly for organizations selling complex products and services.

One such tool is configure, price and quote (CPQ). CPQ software boosts CRM by automating part of the sales process that is repetitive, time-consuming and prone toerrors that leave money on the table. To give you an idea of how CPQ software can streamline the quoting process through automation, here’s a step-by-step look at how our Model N CPQ solution works:

• Lead comes into CRM system

• Sales rep accepts the lead and is ready to generate a quote

• Rep launches Model N CPQ from the sales opportunity in CRM

• Rep uses Model N CPQ to configure the quote

• Model N CPQ automatically guides rep through process according to rules and configurations

• Quote is generated and attached to opportunity

• Quote is automatically routed for approval if necessary, which is determined by terms

• Once approved, quote is released to customer

• Once sale closed, CRM creates customer record and billing info

• Aberdeen reports that B2B sales organizations that use CPQ software to streamline their quoting process achieve higher proposal volume, larger deal size and shorter sale cycles. The Aberdeen report is definitely worth a read; you can sign-up for a free registration to read the report.

It’s important to understand that CPQ software simplifies quoting and boosts CRM, but not all CPQ software is created equal. The most important aspect of any CPQ software is that people actually use it. This means the solution you choose needs to be simple and user-friendly. When you start looking at making an investment in CPQ ask a few crucial questions:

1. Is it native to my CRM?

2. Can it quote products, services and subscriptions together?

3. Will I need to write code every time there’s a change to quoting rules?

4. Can supervisors approve quotes in real-time?

You get one shot to earn your sales team’s acceptance of a new application and they’re a finicky group. Do your due diligence—compare solutions, talk to users and trial the software. After all, any investment in CRM and sales automation tools that don’t get used is just more money down the drain.

3 reasons why Salesforce.com falls short when it comes to contracts

When it comes to enterprise solutions, organizations normally gravitate to just a handful of vendors. Whether it’s SAP, Oracle, or another major player, the list is pretty short, and [...]

When it comes to enterprise solutions, organizations normally gravitate to just a handful of vendors. Whether it’s SAP, Oracle, or another major player, the list is pretty short, and unfortunately the cost per solution is high. Enterprise solutions often end up costing millions, or even tens of millions, of dollars.

Since these systems are such large investments, companies tend to stretch their capabilities to ensure a positive ROI. For instance, they will try to leverage systems for functionalities that simply aren’t within their scopes. This is common with ERP systems. However, there is another system that organizations extend beyond its means — Salesforce.com.

Salesforce.com has grown in popularity among companies, driving them to want to do everything within the system. According to the common adage, there’s an app for that, people generally expect simple solutions for just about every technological need. And while Salesforce.com is an easy solution for managing customer relationships, it’s not the right program for everything.

If your company attempts to use Salesforce.com to automate and streamline contract lifecycle management, you’re missing out on key steps and critical functionalities. From a contracting perspective, organizations should only use Salesforce.com for three things:

  1. Search
  2. Request
  3. Track

Sales teams tend to think that they only need to be able to search for existing agreements, request new agreements, and track the status of an agreement when managing contracts. And in that case, since much of this information lives in Salesforce.com, many sales teams attempt to leverage the system to execute the entire contracting process.

However from a contracting perspective, Salesforce.com lacks critical functionality that is essential to successful automated contract management, such as authoring, rendering, redlining, and approving. Salesforce.com doesn’t effectively manage these functional requirements of contract management. Because of this, companies should adopt a full-fledged contract management system.

Here are three reasons why proper contract management is best performed in a focused contract management solution:

1. Functionality. Salesforce.com is the clear leader in CRM, but contract rendering, authoring, reviewing, redlining, approving, storing, and securing aren’t key customer relationship functions. These steps require contract expertise, and must be completely auditable and secure. Organizations that bog down their CRM solutions with other functions often see a decreased performance in the true CRM capabilities (the reason for the purchase in the first place).

2. Scalability. As businesses grow, so do their contract volumes. Systems unprepared to handle large quantities of documents fail to scale when an organization needs it most.

3. Licenses. The number of people needed to move a contract from initiation through approval can end up being much larger than originally anticipated. Sales, marketing, administration, contracting, legal, finance, channel management, and procurement each have their own role in the contracting process. Now think about how many of these departments currently have access to Salesforce.com. The number of Salesforce.com licenses required might need to double, triple, or more to ensure all the right people have access. And that’s not practical or cheap.

Most organizations seek the maximum return on their enterprise software investment. However, forcing systems to work considerably outside of their “comfort zones” is a slippery slope. By stretching solutions in the search of maximum ROI, companies might cost themselves more in the end.

Organizations can source a dedicated contract lifecycle management system that integrates with Salesforce.com, but adopting a system that performs the contract heavy lifting outside of Salesforce.com is often a better solution. Organizations can still utilize Salesforce.com for contract initiation and monitoring, but by implementing a singular contract management system, organizations no longer have to fear the headaches associated with asking systems to work outside of their comfort zones.